Enjoying Your Body
‘How could I dance when I couldn’t walk? The thought of life without dancing was extremely depressing for me. I had to find a way to keep dancing. What I learned was that the dancer inside me didn’t know or care that I was using a wheelchair, she just wanted to keep dancing.’
So between the self-esteem tips, beauty standards, and exercise, where’s the time for fun?
You’ve hit the nail on the head. Yes, it’s important to keep your body fit and healthy, and be aware of the various factors that affect your self-esteem, relationships and happiness, but forget for a moment eating right, going to the doctor and exercising. Your body is yours to enjoy, and here are a few ideas and tips to get you started!
Do you feel more confident when you dress a certain way? When you treat your nails to a special colour of nail polish, or apply some kajal to bring out your eyes? Sometimes just finding a perfectly textured shawl at the market to wear for a special night out can make you feel great. So why not treat yourself to the things that make you feel special and attractive? Go shopping with a friend. Don’t let your disability get in the way of you adorning your body as you see or feel fit. Try a few clothes-swapping sessions with your friends, cousins, or even your mum. And be creative – it’s your body and dressing up should be fun, not a chore.
If you are indoors for most of the day, going for a walk or a ride on your wheelchair outside can be just the breath of fresh air you need. If you live in a city, find a park with a walkway or simply just a breezy stretch of road. Getting out of the house and taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the streets around can be liberating – get out there and give it a try.
Is there any particular food that you really enjoy? Maybe it’s your aunty’s special dessert that makes your mouth water, or the chaat place just down the street that has the best pani puris you’ve ever tasted.
Enjoying different types of food and flavours can be loads of fun, and if you can go outside, see what different things are available in your area. If you enjoy cooking, try experimenting with recipes. Eating and sharing food can be a relaxing and fun activity, so don’t hold back from new tastes and cuisines – it could really spice up your life!
If you know how to swim, or have the opportunity to learn, it is never too late in life to enjoy the rush of moving your body in different ways through the water. Or if you can’t swim but can get into a pool or the sea – well, that’s what the shallow end/sea shore is for! If you want to take up a class, Swim India run aqua-therapies for people with disabilities . If you live in a hot climate, it’s a great way to cool off! If you don’t have access to large bodies of water, or find it difficult to move your body, the simple pleasure of a daily bath can be exhilarating.
Go out dancing with your friends. There’s nothing like moving your body to the rhythm of some good beats. And by moving, we mean move whatever you can! Head bops can be the new cha cha cha, and if you can’t twirl round in circles, well hold up your partner’s arm so she can. For inspiration, you can check out these videos of amazing wheelchair dancers from Ability Unlimited. If you’re hearing impaired, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy dancing. Feel the rhythm of people’s feet against the dance floor, and move with them. Remember all those romantic scenes in movies where two people do a slow dance on an empty street or on the beach? Well, they didn’t need to hear music to enjoy it, and nor do you.
Think about creative ways in which you can adapt activities you would like to do. Why not try playing badminton from a sitting position in your wheelchair? Or if you can’t hear, how about getting your friends to hold up a flashing light telling them when you should pass the ball during a game of football? If you are interested in playing sports at a professional level, check out theParalymic Committee of India – they have centres all around the country.
Do you enjoy art? If you can’t see, you could work in mediums like clay that rely on texture rather than sight. Or you can check out Partho Bhowmick’s workshops Or look at Manav Foundation’s therapies in drama, dance, art and yoga for people with mental disabilities for some interesting courses and activities in your area.
And of course, your body (and your mind) can be the site of unlimited sexual pleasure. Whether it’s by masturbating and fantasizing in ways that make you feel good, or sharing a sexual experience with a partner (or partners), your body can be the source of great sexual enjoyment.